Put your arms up beside your ears, straighten your back, don’t drop your head, keep your legs together: be a torpedo. BREATHE.
Who knew there was so much to know about how to move your body through the water. My previous method was to kick my legs awkwardly like I was riding a bicycle, and doggy paddle my way from the edge of the pool or the lake out to some sort of floatation device before giving up swimming all together.
I had my first few swimming lessons over the past two weeks, which have been great, yet challenging for me at the same time. Although I had some swimming lessons as a kid and spent my summers snorkeling the shorelines of lakes and doing flips over pool noodles in my grandma’s in-ground pool, swimming does not come naturally to me. I’m rather awkward in the water.
I also can’t go under water without plugging my nose.
This is a challenge for someone who wants to swim competitively. My first lesson consisted of me holding on to the edge of the pool, kicking my feet and trying to get my body straight and relaxed. We practiced in the pool at my work, which was great, since there was nobody there to watch me struggle to swim in my one-piece bathing suit, swimming cap and nose plug (I look like a total nerd).
For the next lesson, we headed up to Bear Mountain to use the outdoor heated pool. Coach had me holding on to a pool noodle, kicking my legs and trying to turn my mouth up to the side to breathe—this is not an easy thing to do, especially when you’re wearing a nose plug. By the end of the session, I was feeling more comfortable breathing on my right side; the left side, however, still needs some work.
After my lesson, I decided to jump in the outdoor hot tub next to the pool to warm up. There were two girls my age in the hot tub, chatting away in their bikinis, and two muscly gym-goer type dudes. And then there was me, in my one-piece bathing suit, swimming cap, goggles and nose plug, pool noodle by my side. If coach wasn’t there chatting with me and giving me pointers, I would have felt like a total impostor. I felt like I should have been sitting with the bikini-clad girls, chatting about what to wear to so-and-so’s wedding rather than what stretches I should do to loosen my calf muscle.
Then I thought back to when I started running. I had no idea what a tempo run was, what my pace should be and how to run properly up a hill. I remember feeling like an impostor when I ran my first race back in 2009. I chose to wear a cotton tank top and cheap running capris because I didn’t want to look too fast, like maybe I knew what I was doing; now, I sport my KP running gear, racing flats and Garmin watch proud.
I can’t wait for this to happen with swimming. Swimming has always been an elusive sport for me. I always said I’d never do a triathlon because I can’t swim, but here I am.
I can’t wait to sport my nose plug proudly.